Escarpment Urban Retreat

Calgary, Canada 2010

On an escarpment overlooking the Bow River valley and downtown Calgary, is an Urban Retreat designed to please its engaging Owners. The small lot had to fit a busy family of four who loves entertaining their large extended family, and have the ability to enjoy outdoor gatherings.

The home was strategically sited on the property, making efficient use of its footprint. Its thoughtful floor plan incorporates both private and public spaces as well as a garage that has the ability to store and park eight vehicles.

The Architect, working with the local codes that required all residences to shield themselves from adjacent houses, started with a two story bedroom / office / kitchen and utility wing to line one side of the lot and a large stone fireplace wall with wine display to protect the opposite side.

Between the two shielding structures a two story glass lantern, enclosing the great room, was placed to rotate the view of downtown Calgary out the front of the home. This tall, windowed core creates a central space filled with light throughout the day, allowing the Montana honey ledge stone to absorb the sun’s energy during the winter while being protected by overhangs during the summer.

The master suite offers views of the river valley and downtown with an adjoining lounge and outdoor patio. The ensuite features a ‘his and her’ almond-shaped vanity island with translucent shoji screens, lighting the space.

The word “basement” was banned throughout the design process. Generous light wells were created on the south side to reflect sunlight through the mirrored exercise area to balance light with the skylights above the stairway, filling the lower level with natural light.

To add the final materials and finish touches, the Owners collaborated with the premier Calgary Interior Design team of McIntyre Bills. Through their vision, the elegant jewel box kitchen sparkles while being very functional, the stainless steel fireplace surround is elegantly placed around large format basalt floor tile, and many incredible fabrics and furniture pieces grace the house. McIntyre said keeping the palette grounded in nature was important, “Even though it’s contemporary, there’s a natural-ness to the house, to the colors of the stone and the wood and the floor.”

With great Owners and an amazing team of collaborative designers, the Escarpment House joyfully fits its active, loving family in a small property with elegant grace and beauty.